Wal-Mart’s Ex-Counsel Named CEO of Walton-Supported Vail Clinic

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s former general counsel has joined a sports-medicine clinic and foundation supported by a range of wealthy benefactors, including a member of the Walton family and a Wal-Mart director.

Last month, Tom Mars became chief executive officer of the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute, according to a statement on the group’s website. The Colorado clinic, with offices in Vail, Frisco and Edwards, specializes in orthopedic medicine and says it has treated hundreds of Olympic and professional athletes.

Mars left Wal-Mart in March, about two months after two members of Congress released e-mails from 2005 in which he informed Mike Duke, now CEO, of allegations that executives in Mexico were corrupt. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating Wal-Mart for allegedly bribing Mexican officials to speed expansion efforts in that country. Wal-Mart has said it’s cooperating with the Justice and SEC inquiries.

Founded in 1988 by Dr. J. Richard Steadman, the foundation is dedicated to “keeping people physically active through orthopedic research and education,” according to its mission statement.

Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton and sister of two Wal-Mart board members, has contributed at least $100,000 and up to $500,000 to the institute, according to its 2011 annual report and a donor list on the website. Wal-Mart board member Douglas Daft has donated up to $100,000 to the institute. Other donors include investment banker Herbert Allen, Michael Dell, the computer company founder, and Nelson Peltz, CEO of Trian Fund Management.

‘Leadership Skills’

“Tom’s executive experience, integrity and leadership skills make him the right person to lead both the Steadman Clinic and the Steadman Philippon Research Institute,” Steadman said in a statement.

His partner, Marc Philippon, said in a statement: “Tom will be a great fit for us. He is an effective communicator with great people skills and will help us achieve our full potential for keeping people active.”

In his statement, Mars said he and his family “are looking forward to living in the Vail Valley and being part of the community.”

Mars didn’t respond to a message seeking comment. Wal-Mart and a representative for Alice Walton declined to comment.

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